Developer: Eiconic Games Limited
Publisher: UTV Ignition Entertainment
Platform: XBLA, PSN (reviewed)
Price: 400 Microsoft Points, $4.99
Release Date: 28th September 2011
Players with a magpie like fascination for shiny things rejoice! The Mercury series has returned to consoles after successful releases on the PS2, PSP and Wii, and this time it’s in extra shiny HD. Coming in at a bargain price of $4.99, Mercury Hg offers an unusually relaxed bout of tilt and travel gameplay that utilises flowing liquid metal in the place of a rolling ball/marble/monkeyholder.
There are 60 short levels to complete, as well as a handful of challenges and bonus levels. Players can use their own music to personalise the experience and make the levels keep time with their favourite beat. The gameplay premise is a simple one – get the mercury to the goal. Of course there are plenty of obstacles in the way, and the game isn’t afraid to pile them on. Conveyor belts and magnets quickly join sticky tiles and perilous slopes, floor tiles rotate and form underneath the blob and chunks of the level slide along with it.
The mercury flows rather than rolls, following the path of walls if you hit them at speed and dripping off edges when you get too close. It’s more forgiving than a monkey filled ball or marble, making for a more fluid experience that gives you a slap on the wrist for minor errors rather than chopping your head off. PS3 owners can choose to control the mercury with the SIXAXIS tilt function, a choice which definitely needs a bit more concentration than it’s analogue stick counterpart.
There are five atoms to collect in each level that force some completionist exploration, and a bit of complexity is added by the ability to change the colour of the mercury. Stumped by a green only section? Split the blob in two with the nearest pointy end, use some primary school art to remember that blue + yellow = green and et voila! Use the game’s strange hovering colour changers
to make one blob blue and the other yellow, splat them together and roll on through in a fetching metallic green.
It all flows together very well and the controls are impeccable – this is one very solidly built game. No matter how many obstacles and bright colours it throws at you, however, it never becomes difficult. Levels can look incredibly chaotic but never require any thought to complete – the puzzle aspect is kept light and unless you want to challenge the leaderboards with a perfect time then there’s little reason to replay the stages.
The four atom achievements for each level are never difficult to come by, and they can easily be handled in two quick play throughs. Put on a laid back bit of electro and meander along without a care for the timer, collecting every atom and delivering 100% of the mercury to the end goal, up the tempo with the next track and blitz the level as fast as you can – one atom for completion, one for speed, one for atoms collected (in level) and another for 100% mercury.It all makes for a very relaxing style of gameplay and it feels like that is the developer’s intent – Mercury Hg isn’t out to frustrate or challenge, it’s just a bit of chilled out escapism.
Collecting atoms unlocks the next set of levels, neatly presented in the chemical groups of the Periodic Table. There is DLC on the horizon that unlocks two more groups, which should extend the somewhat short life of the game. It is only $4.99 though, so I can’t really hold a grudge for the depth of the content considering the quality. It’s a game best handled in light and breezy chunks, a filler rather than a feature.
Audio & Visual:
Mercury Hg is packed full of bright colours, dynamic, flowing levels and light electro music. Platforms rotate and change colour to the movements of the mercury, and in the background sound bars pulse to the music. Everything is cleanly cut and boldly coloured, and the quality is very high for such a game at the bargain end of the spectrum.
Players are free to use their own playlists instead of the in game music, a feature which can change the tempo of the game entirely depending on your genre of choice. Stay similar to the in game tracks and have a chill out session with some electro, or stick on some bass heavy rock or up tempo dance music and space out with all the pretty colours!
The impact of the music on the background of the levels has been a big selling point in Mercury Hg’s press releases, and the game’s tutorials are all for it – this is a FEATURE. It does make for a cool bit of personalisation but it’s just a basic beat response – media player visualisers can do better. However put it together with the electric coloured chaos of some of the levels and Mercury Hg provides a visual feast – maybe even a visual overload. This is definitely not one for gamers susceptible to motion sickness!
Mercury Hg is best handled in small trippy chunks, whacking on whatever music you fancy at the time and chilling out with your mercury blob. The build quality is impeccable and although the roll to the goal gameplay lacks any real challenge it is still engaging in its simplicity – so put down those intense blockbusters for a second and let your brain unwind to your favourite tunes.